By ANDY GOODELL
The Oskaloosa Herald
His is a story of perseverance.
On Aug. 18, Don Fenton was on his way home after he had been riding his mare, Mickey, for about an hour and a half.
On this day, Fenton was thrown from the horse and suffered devastating injuries — the likes of which could have taken his life. He would go on to have a plastic surgery procedure to repair his face, Fenton said. This was done to repair his jaw, eye sockets and nose.
One day later, Fenton had an operation on his back to take some pressure off of his spinal cord.
Back in December 2012, after months of physical and occupational therapy, Fenton only had partial paralysis below the waist and was able to walk distances of 300 to 400 feet using just one fore-arm crutch in his left hand.
His determination to recover has remained since December 2012. Faith has certainly played a role in his recovery. He expressed that faith during a recent Herald interview.
“On Aug. 18, 2012, my life and the lives of my family changed — and probably forever,” said Fenton. “That’s when I was thrown from my horse and sustained spinal chord injury and facial injuries. I underwent around 10 or 11 hours of surgery between my back surgery and my facial reconstructive surgery and I’ve made it through.
Regrettably, our lives changed. But, I know that there’s a God in Heaven and he’ll see us through. Nothing is easy in life worth doing at times. But, if we have faith in God and in ourselves, we can come out better on the other side.”
Fenton recently participated in the United Way 5K alongside his daughter Nicole, who was pregnant at the time. Fenton said Nicole would go on to give birth to Kimber Elaine Jemison the Monday after the 5K.
“We walked it — didn’t run it,” explained Fenton. “It felt great. I didn’t quit.”
Since the birth of his grandchild, Fenton said it feels good to be a grandfather.
“It’s indescribable,” he said. “It’s just one of those wonders of God — one of those miracles of God.”
Fenton has regular visits to Work Systems Rehab & Fitness in Oskaloosa. He credited them with helping him be able to participate in the 5K. Fenton said he has been able to go on a treadmill for as long as around 40 minutes at physical therapy.
There is also a continued level of support Fenton receives from family members, he said.
Although his story of recovery may be inspiring to some, Fenton stressed that he is only human and not perfect.
A fund in his name has been established at Community First Credit Union. Those interested in helping Fenton with medical expenses can do so by donating to the Don Fenton Foundation at Community First Credit Union.
“I am a determined person,” said Fenton. “But, glory to God that I have come this far and am so far ahead of the curve in typical recovery of patients with this type of injuries.”
Fenton said he’s willing to tell his story to any church group or other organization. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Herald City Editor Andy Goodell can be reached at email@example.com.